Famous Smoke Shop recently announced that Crowned Heads would be producing a special line of cigars exclusively for their shops. Called the Four Kicks Black Belt Buckle, the new cigar is an amped-up version of the original Four Kicks. Where the old Four Kicks used a Habano Ecuador wrapper, this one comes with a Connecticut Broadleaf.
In case you’re curious about the name, it comes from a song by the Kings of Leon. The lyrics go like this:
Huff men don’t take no nonsense He’s here to rectify He’s got his black belt buckle And the red man’s fire in his eyes.
This cigar is brand new—it’s been available to order since December 3. I’ve finally had a chance to give it a try.
Last week we introduced you to Eric Renner, an artist whose oil paintings impressed quite a few of our readers - thank you for participating in the contest! As you remember, we had one customized painting to give away, and the winner is... Jon (jcheu002)! Congrats! Jon will have his favorite cigar painted in the style of "A Fuente Evening". I actually feel a bit jealous writing this, I'd love to have one of Eric's paintings in my office! :)
Thanks again to Eric and all the participants, and stay tuned for more great stuff!
If you are a dyed-in-the-wool Montecristo lover, you might want to stop reading right now. Yes, I am a huge fan of Montecristo, but this review will not be flattering, not in the least. You might want the children to leave the room on this one. In many communities in my country, we have a colloquial saying “You dance with the lady that brought you to the party”, which loosely translates to “You stick with ideas where you excel”. Montecristo would have done well to have heeded this idiom before foisting this product upon the cigar loving public. They tried to copy others by an attempt to make a “kinder and gentler” cigar. Failure. Absolute and total failure.
Many of you will remember the giveaway that we did with Darrel Morris a year ago. Well, now it’s time to introduce you to yet another incredible cigar artist and offer you yet another chance to win free custom artwork!
Today I want to introduce you to Eric Renner. Eric Renner is a cigar enthusiast who paints “life’s little indulgences” with stunning, lifelike detail. Eric uses oil paints and birch panels to create his remarkable works of art.
“These days it seems like we’re more busy than ever,” Eric writes on his website. “These paintings are about the small indulgences we grant ourselves when we put the stress of everyday life aside for a few hours. They are reminders of those relaxing moments, enjoying a drink, a good cigar and great conversation with friends.”
Eric’s skill with a brush has received acclaim from art critics like Brian Sherwin, editor of The Art Edge, who commented, “Artist Eric Renner's still life paintings are marked by a strong sense of class and sophistication. His body of work provides a jumping point for fond memories shared between friends. The work I observed is strengthened by a striking use of color and composition—his playful use of light and form elevates the inviting feel of these works. These impressive still life paintings welcome viewers to take a seat and reflect on cherished memories."
Looking at Eric Renner’s oil paintings, I think you’ll be blown away by the degree of detail in them. His interplay of light and shadow and textures and color creates an inviting, warm ambiance and a sense of privacy and tranquility. These paintings don’t just embody the delights of cigar and fine wines, but our greatest indulgence—living in the moment and truly luxuriating in those sensory experiences. Whether it’s a moment of solitude and reflection or a moment of shared familiarity, you’ll find it reflected in Renner’s beautiful works.
I recommend you take a gander at Eric’s gallery and take one of those moments now to lose yourself in the worlds he has created. Also check out his Facebook or Instagram and follow for updates. Eric has many lovely paintings for sale, and does accept commissions!
But now’s your chance to win a custom painting for free, so let’s get onto the giveaway! Eric has agreed to do a one-of-a-kind oil painting for the winner. If you are selected, you can name one of your favorite cigars, and Eric will paint it for you in the style of “A Fuente Evening” (size: 7 inches x 14 inches). You will be able to contact Eric directly and work out the details (Eric likes to paint with the cigar in front him, so you’ll need to choose a reasonably priced option so he can pick it up at the store). Once the painting is complete, Eric will ship it to you free.
Entering is easy! Just post a comment below mentioning your favorite painting from Eric’s website; feel free to explain why you like the painting. Good luck, and thanks for participating!
PS Contest is open to US residents only. The winner will be announced in one week, next Thursday.
We went even further and partnered with our friends at Famous Smoke to give you an opportunity to purchase some of the cigars from our selection at a discounted rate. This is how the "Great Winter Smoke Sampler" was born. The 8-pack consists of the following cigars:
There have been several heated discussions in blogs and forums on the web, over the benefits of wetting your cigar before smoking it. Min Ron Nee, a well respected aficionado was the one that said he sometimes puts his cigars under the tap before smoking them to enhance their flavours and the overall smoking experience. Some people said that it did seem logical, some more adventurous tried it and some simply said this was impossible! I thought I should try the experiment myself and find out if wetting a cigar would make it more pleasurable to me. To be able to compare it with a dry cigar, I picked up two Ramon Allones Small Club Coronas, in order to smoke them at the same time. Both cigars were from the same 2008 box.
I’ve tried a few BenRiach whiskies over the years, and most of them were heavy on the peat. There are times when I like peat, but I often find it overwhelming, so I haven’t really gotten into the brand all that much. Recently, though, I decided I would try the BenRiach 15-Year-Old. I’d read that it’s a lot different from other whiskies in BenRiach’s catalog, and having tried it, I must concur.
The BenRiach 15-Year-Old was made using a two-step maturation process. First the whisky was matured in American oak bourbon barrels. Then it was transferred to casks from the bodegas of Jerez de la Frontera in Andalusia. These casks previously were used to mature Pedro Ximenez sherry. Having had good experiences before with whiskies aged in sherry casks, I figured this one might be worth a try.
In the bottle, the BenRiach 15-Year-Old is a deep amber colour. Aromatic notes include caramel, vanilla, pineapple, and nutmeg. But all of these notes are melded into something dusty. The best way I can describe it would be to say that it smells like the bottle was left open in an attic for a decade.
Flavours are quite surprising given these aromas. I was expecting this to be overwhelmingly sweet because of the caramel smell and the sherry, but both of those flavours are quite well blended into the whole. Other notes include orange, cherries, pepper, nutmeg, wood and—yes—peat. Thankfully however the peat is very light and stays in the background where it doesn’t take over the entire flavour profile. There is plenty of spice. The finish is long and dry with the fruit flavours lingering.
I can definitely tell that this is a BenRiach whisky, but it is far more balanced to me than most of their whiskies. I enjoy peat, but I like it in short, controlled bursts. I don’t like when it takes over a drink completely. Here the peat is just one element weaving into the whole. I was also pleased that this wasn’t overwhelmingly sweet (nor does it taste like dust). All in all, it exceeded my expectations. You can purchase the BenRiach 15-Year-Old for around $50-$60, which isn’t cheap, but it’s worth your money.